As part of its efforts to end the rising threat of desert encroachment across the country, the Federal Government through the Office of the Senior Special Assistance to the President on Schools Agricultural Programme is embarking on a massive tree planting campaign.
This was made known by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Schools Agricultural Programmes (SSAP-SAP), Dr. Baraka Sani, while on a courtesy visit to the Minister of Environment.
Baraka stated that the campaign, which is a component of the comprehensive initiative by President Goodluck Jonathan tagged: ‘Schools Agriculture Programme’ will see each student planting ten trees annually. She added that the pilot stage of the programme will commerce in 12 states with each club having a membership of 120 students.
Speaking on the mandate of her office, she explained that her office has the responsibility to implement a comprehensive agricultural programme that will introduce young students to the various opportunities contained in agriculture by promoting skills for life and further contribute to the drive in ensuring the diversification of the country’s economy.
“The programme will focus on food/vegetable production, fisheries and aqua-culture, poultry, nutrition, environmental protection through awareness campaign and tree planting programme and conservation of natural resources, processing and packaging apiarist training for honey production, livestock production and small scale irrigation and entrepreneurial programme for members of the club,” Baraka stated while adding that the multiplier effect would definitely play a great role in the eradication of poverty and promoting job creation.
The SSAP-SAP who recognized the Minister of Environment as a key stakeholder in the tree planting mandate, said steps will be taken under the guidance of the ministry to ensure the protection of the environment and the preservation of the country’s natural resources.
“We are looking at planting moringa in the north and palm trees in the south or as may be advised. We would also like you to oblige us with any other expertise as may be appropriate in order to avoid duplication of existing programmes or events,” she said.
On her part, the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Lawrencia Mallam, noted that the scheme was very laudable. She cautioned that the environment should not be neglected because everything centers on the environment. Taking the issue of the drought in the north as a classic example, she raised alarm that if the right environmental habits are not imbibed, “we will soon be drowned in the consequences”.
She, however, stated that the present administration through the Great Green Wall programme is already addressing that issue. She further disclosed that the formal flag off of the Great Green Wall programme will be carried out by the President in Kebbi very soon.